Friday, May 17, 2013

Waltons 8.15: “The Idol”

Airdate: 1/10/80

As Cindy nears her delivery date, the town greets the new teacher, Hazel Lamphere, a warm, witty woman who immediately strikes up a friendship with Elizabeth. Cultured but appreciative of the energy and zeal of art, she butts heads with Corabeth’s pretentious traditionalism, and when she hatches the idea of teaching the miracles of childbirth to her misinformed students, it is
Corabeth who leads the charge in protest. But of more immediate concern to Hazel is her health; when Mary Ellen finds her passed out from a headache, Hazel informs her that she has a brain tumor, with only a few months to life. Reluctantly, she informs Elizabeth, who is traumatized, but later realizes that it is her lasting memory and passion for learning that will keep her alive forever.

Oh, and Cindy’s baby? It’s a girl! And after much neurosis (and drinking) over his impending fatherhood, Ben faces the music and arrives at the hospital to be with his beloved wife, and new daughter, Virginia.

A tearjerker in the finest Waltons tradition. Guest star Susan Krebs, a veteran of oh so many film and TV credits, is outstanding as Hazel (and she’s given a lot of sharp dialogue). After meeting her, of course we know there gotta be something lurking around the corner; in this case it’s the “dragon” of death, but her fearlessness and willingness to continue sucking the marrow out of life is quite heroic, and enviable. Another fine dramatic offering to follow “The Unspeakable” up with.

Hazel’s first, foreshadowing, headache, done in slow motion to the strains of weird classical music, is actually quite frightening – perhaps as it should be.

According to Keith Coogan (Jefferey) on his Internet radio show The Call Sheet, someone on the set dared him to alter his line in this episode, from “Good night, Virginia!” to “Good night, vagina!” Needless to say, it did not go over well.

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